Published: Wed, June 21, 2017
National | By Rosalie Gross

Airline Flights Being Canceled Due To Extreme Heat

Airline Flights Being Canceled Due To Extreme Heat

Las Vegas was forecast to hit 117 (47 Celsius) on Tuesday on the first day of summer, and excessive heat warnings cover nearly all of California.

"If you are scheduled to arrive and/or depart Phoenix during this time period, we recommend you change to an earlier or later flight, or connect via a different city, in order to avoid any disruption in your travel plans", the statement reads.

The Fort Worth-based airline cancelled 50 flights Monday in and out of Phoenix and expected delays for at least seven flights to Sky Harbor on Tuesday, according to American Airlines spokesman Ross Feinstein.

A Salvation Army hydration station sign gets hit by the midday sun as temperatures climb to near-record highs, Monday, June 19, 2017, in Phoenix.

In the hottest big city in America, summer temperatures routinely top 100 degrees, and on rare occasions can creep beyond 120.

Meanwhile, emergency officials in Phoenix are hoping not to have a repeat of past year when there were 130 heat-related deaths. Now, airlines have a better understanding, but the heat is still a concern - primarily for smaller, regional jets. Project superintendent Tommy Russell says his company has held weekly safety meetings to prepare for the heat, and he will send all his workers home if it hits 120. Most of the others involved people with non-functioning air conditioners. He added climate change is nearly certainly playing a role in nearly all extreme heat events "for most of the world".

An excessive heat warning is in effect as temperatures are expected to stay above 110 degrees into the weekend.

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Historically, average temperatures for Phoenix this time of year have remained between 40 and 43 C, he said.

The heatwave gripping the West is so intense that people in Arizona are being warned to be careful around concrete and playground equipment because touching them could cause second and third-degree burns.

Arizona is seeing some of the most dramatic temperatures Tuesday, but the heat wave is being felt across Nevada and California, too.

Las Vegas also baked. Urban heat means that asphalt and buildings in metro areas contain more heat than non-developed areas.

On Sunday, the Weather Service said the mercury reached 92 degrees at Pulliam Airport, tying the record high for the date set in 1940.

The BBC explains the reason for the flight cancellations as being that with higher temperatures the air has a lower density. She said she yells at people who walk their dogs without them in the afternoon heat. The National Weather Service had been forecasting Tuesday highs at 120 or higher in Phoenix for the past several days, a number not seen in the desert city in more than 20 years, but it now predicts 119.

No other airline has reported cancellations due to the heat.

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